The Model 541

One fine afternoon back in the summer of 1991, my friend Arlee and I were driving northbound on Highland Avenue in Hollywood. Just past the intersection of Highland and Hollywood Boulevard was, at that time, a closed gas station and a large vacant lot next to it. (Now, the parcel is part of the huge Hollywood Galaxy complex.) Traffic along Highland was bottlenecked as usual. We cruised quite slowly past the gas station and I saw that a large flea market had been set up at the gas station lot and in the vacant lot next to it.

My eyes scoured the lot for anything interesting. I didn’t know what I expected to see since we were clear over on the other side of a 6-lane avenue and the flea market tents and booths were situtated some distance from the curb. But I scanned anyway. When I saw two suspicious-looking handles sticking up I yelled to Arlee “Stop the car!” He rounded the corner and parked, and we hurried over there. (He loves flea markets too, but not for vacuum cleaners!)

I made my way to the booth where I saw the handles and, lo and behold, there were two old vacuum cleaners: An ancient- and primitive-looking Hoover, older than anything I had ever seen (keep in mind this was when I had just started collecting, really, and had just met Stan Kann only a couple weeks prior — had not yet been to his house), and an old Premier.

Both machines looked really nice. However, I was not all THAT interested in them since at that point I really only fancied Kirbys and Electroluxes. But I asked the man what he wanted for them. When he said “fifty bucks each” I literally laughed out loud!

I exclaimed, with great righteous indignation, “You gotta be kidding! Who do you think would spend that kind of money on vacuums that are that old?! You certainly could not use them for cleaning!”

I then told him my standard “white lie” that I use when I don’t want to tip people off that I am a collector, lest their machines suddenly become more valuable than all the gold in King Solomon’s mines! I said that I am a photographer and would like to use them as props for a shoot. (This really IS just a little white lie ... I am a photographer, of sorts, and I certainly do use old vacuum cleaners in photo shoots, haha!!)

I continued, “I’ll give you ten bucks each for them, which I am sure is more than anyone else has offered. It's the end of the day, and they're still standing here aren't they.”

He hemmed and hawwed, looked around, looked at his watch, then said, “Fifteen each and they're yours. Even though that’s less than I paid for ’em!”

Well, he did seem a nice guy so what the heck, I took them. Arlee, of course, thought I had gone off my rocker and said, “You’re not putting those old things in the house! They may be full of germs!!”

I asked him to please stop bugging me about that — you could tell that the machines both were very clean and in good condition: Neither of them even had any dirt in the bag.

Well, I got them home, I did bring them inside, with Arlee mumbling the usual threats about “One of these days I'm gonna throw all these @$^#$ $@#%@#@ vacuums in the trash.” I plugged them in and fired them up one at a time. I was not the least bit surprised to find that they both ran perfectly.

A week or so later I had my first chance to meet Stan in person. When I went to his house and saw all those beautiful 1920s and early 1930s vacuum cleaners, most of them in mint condition and all original, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I told him about the Hoover I had found, and by my description he was able to deduce that it’s a 541.

He then showed me his 541, and I noted several differences. Mainly that the handle on mine is natural wood and his is painted black, that mine has a silver cloth-covered cord and his is black rubber, and that mine had a silver bag made out of a silky material and his had a black bag. He was quite keen to see mine, so in a week’s time I came over with it.

He looked it over and said, “Well, someone has changed it all around — it’s all wrong! That bag and bag slider arrangement is MUCH older. [His 541 had a 543 bag on it.] And the 541 never had an unfinished handle or a silver cord like that!”

I was a little disappointed by his assessment of course, but I didn’t, like, lose my mind over it. I liked the way it looked, very old fashioned and primitive, looking more like some old piece of farm machinery than a vacuum cleaner! So I have kept it the way I found it.

I will say that the instruction book (which I found later) does describe how the bag slides up and down on a long metal clip — and as you will see, that’s exactly what this one does, even though Stan said it was from an earlier model. I am sure someone out there will know.

He also showed me something very interesting about that model — you can remove the top cap and then by loosening two screws inside there on the top of the motor, you can rotate the metal ring that holds the carbon brushes in place, and by doing so can alter the speed of the motor! You will see photos and videos of that directly.

"On With The Show!"

 


View from the left.

 


View from the Right.

 


View from the front.

 


View from the top.

 


I really love this look of this series of Hoovers from this angle for some reason!

 


Nameplate badge.

 


Original bag — the material is called “sateen.” The Hoover logo runs on both sides of the bag.

 


The coiled-wire bag top and handle slider with the motor shut off.

 


The coiled-wire bag top and handle slider with the motor turned on — note how the bag slides up along the wire holder..

 


Silver cloth-covered cord. Arlee said the cloth material is silk.)

 


Isn’t that a beautiful cord!

 


On-off switch. The circular housing is made of brass.

 


Hoover logo in the front rug nozzle bumper.

 


View of the bottom with the belt and brush roller plates removed. Look how nice the brushes are (but note that two are missing).

 


The photo above shows the motor set on high speed, and the photo below shows it on low speed. What you do is to loosen the two screws nearest the red circles, then place your fingers on the circular piece and turn it to the left to slow the motor down, and turn it to the right to speed it up. NOTE: If you have a 541, DO NOT DO THE STUPID THING I DID in the video below AND DO THIS WHILE THE MOTOR IS RUNNING! I just did that so y’all could hear the difference. You could get seriously zapped doing this, so DON'T DO IT!!

 


Instruction Manual

 

Want to see and hear the 541 in action —
as it BEATS as it SWEEPS as it CLEANS ?!
Click on the icons below!


Cleaning

Fastest Speed

Slowest Speed
 

Slow to Fast

Bag Sliding Up

The bag again

 

 

 

Hoover Model 475
Hoover Model 700 Special
Hoover Model 541
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